Our top 10 favorite calibers from TAG Heuer
By Aart Steinmann, 20 December 2022TAG Heuer and motorsports have been inextricably linked since the early days of the company and particularly as a result of Jack W. Heuer's passion in that field. Motorsports has always been about innovation. No matter how advanced a past design was, future ones will eventually not only catch up with it, but – more importantly – overtake it. That's why it's no surprise that TAG Heuer has continually produced revolutionary innovations as well. Let's explore some of the legendary TAG Heuer calibres with which the company has made a lasting impact on watchmaking history.
Which movements does TAG Heuer use?
Let's first look at how much TAG Heuer manufactures calibres themselves. Like most luxury watch manufacturers, TAG Heuer has relied and continues to rely on the craftsmanship from a variety of movement suppliers. Accordingly, refined movements from manufacturers such as ETA and Valjoux can be found in Heuer and TAG Heuer watches, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's quite the opposite – the installed movements have all been tried and tested a thousand times and proven under real conditions. Nevertheless, the higher you climb the price ladder, the more manufacture calibres you will find at TAG Heuer.
Which is better, though: manufacture calibres or the refined movements from third-party suppliers? To settle this question, we've picked out our 10 favourite TAG Heuer movements. Find out for yourself which type of movement you like best.
The top 10 TAG Heuer calibers
The Calibre 11 – a party that almost never happenedMarch 3, 1969 was supposed to be a special day to celebrate – but the celebration was nearly spoiled. Breitling, (TAG) Heuer, Büren, and Dubois-Dépraz had announced that they would unveil the results of a collaboration that day. The first self-winding chronograph movement was to be presented simultaneously in Geneva and New York – but it was impossible to become "first". A competitor, Zenith, had already introduced its El Primero on January 10th that same year. The public, however, took little notice of it. It was this stroke of luck for the joint venture that, in conjunction with the elaborate showcase of its Calibre 11 Chronomatic, allowed them to generate a broad response and attract the necessary public interest.
Needless to say, titles aren't everything. Both calibres, the El Primero and the Chronomatic, represented a peak in technical achievements in the field of watchmaking at the time. In TAG Heuer's Calibre 11, the mainspring is wound using an externally mounted rotor, instead of a central rotor. The Calibre 11 was subsequently installed in the TAG Heuer Monaco. Like many other watches that became secret stars in movies, it also gained widespread popularity through the feature film "Le Mans" starring Steve McQueen, once again emphasizing TAG Heuer's link to motorsports.
TAG HEUER MONACO CAW211P.FC6356
And the Oscar goes to… The Calibre 1887!For its 150th anniversary, TAG Heuer wanted to celebrate a true premiere. With the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887, the company unveiled its first chronograph with a movement entirely manufactured in-house. The designation "in-house" caused some controversy, however, because the Calibre 1887 was based on the Calibre 6S37 from the Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko. Both companies had agreed that TAG Heuer would be granted the European license to use and further develop the 6S37. The company made the decision to take this step in 2006, even though its affiliation with the Swatch Group meant that it could choose from a large number of high-quality calibres, such as Zenith's Calibre 36. However, they wanted to be independent of the suppliers and movements available.
The TAG Heuer Calibre 1887 consists of 320 components and features a chronograph function with centre second hand, minute counter at 12 o'clock, and hour counter at 6 o'clock. The work on the movement was recognized by an expert jury at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, the Oscars of the watch industry, with the award for the best watch in the category up to 5,000 Swiss francs.
TAG HEUER CARRERA CAR2A10.BA0799
The Calibre Monaco V4 – a new type of driveTAG Heuer not only acts as a sponsor and timekeeper in motorsports, the company draws inspiration from the technology behind the racecars, as well. One specific example of this is the TAG Heuer Calibre Monaco V4, which was introduced as a concept watch in 2004. This model boasts two innovative new features: belts with five teeth were used instead of the classic pinions, and an oscillating weight was developed that moves linearly between V-shaped cylinders. Experts and watch enthusiasts were thrilled by the concept, but doubted that it could be implemented in series production. In time for the company's 150th anniversary, however, they released a revised model of the V4, which was limited to 150 pieces.
The Calibre S – a unification of electronics and mechanics?The development of inexpensive quartz watches from the East also left its mark on Heuer, even though it was a company with a long tradition. Although the company's CEO, Jack W. Heuer, correctly assessed the potential of quartz watches and attempted to respond to it through clever marketing and extraordinary, proprietary models with quartz movements, the company rapidly lost share value. As a result, the great-grandson of the company's founder was forced to sell the company in 1982. In 1985, the company merged with the TAG Group and Heuer became TAG Heuer.
The aspiration to not close itself off to innovation remained, however, and was carried out by the development of the Calibre S. This movement combines both mechanical and electronic elements. The result is high-precision watch models with a refined, mechanical appeal. The dials on the models fitted with a Calibre S have two modes: the first is the watch mode, which shows a retrograde date with a perpetual calendar. The second mode is the Chrono mode. In this, single, intermediate, and consecutive times can be measured with an accuracy of one-hundredth of a second.
TAG HEUER LINK CJF7111.BA0592
The Calibre HEUER 02T NanographEven today, TAG Heuer is always striving to develop forward-looking innovations. Not long after releasing a new manufacture chronograph, the company introduced the Calibre HEUER 02T. This is a COSC-certified automatic chronograph with a flying tourbillon. The movement was not only supposed to be sophisticated, but also compelling on a technological and price scale. The challenge was to fit the chronograph function, the mainspring barrel and the tourbillon within 32 mm. An optimized production process was developed and the tourbillon was handmade by four watchmakers. The result is an extremely lightweight chronograp with a power reserve of 65 hours, which is made mainly of titanium and carbon. As the only certified Swiss-made automatic chronograph, the final cost is less than CHF 15,000.
Calibre 17 – reliable without failThe TAG Heuer Calibre 17 also is a COSC-certified automatic movement with the coveted "Swiss Made" seal. With a diameter of 28.6 mm featuring a total of 37 rubies, this calibre has a versatile and harmonious size without skimping on technical details. For example, this calibre has a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz) and a power reserve of about 42 hours. A rapid date correction system is also included, in addition to the conventional functions such as hours, minutes, a small seconds subdial at 3 o'clock, as well as two or three totalizers for minutes and hours with a central chronograph second hand. The Calibre 17 chronograph caliber is finished in a "Côtes de Genève" design and features "TAG Heuer - Calibre 17 - Swiss Made" engraved in gold lettering.
Simple, yet brilliant: the Calibre 5With a mainspring frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and a power reserve of about 38 hours, the Calibre 5 is also a self-winding movement manufactured by TAG Heuer with chronometer certification, but for a change this calibre does not have a chronograph complication. Instead, this calibre comes as a classic three-hand and offers a dial displaying the hours, minutes, seconds, and a date or weekday window on models like the Carrera. The 26 mm Calibre 5 is equipped with either 25 or 26 rubies, depending on the corresponding functions.
Also in this instance, the manufacturer took the opportunity to provide the oscillating weight with a "Côtes de Genève" pattern and the engraved lettering "TAG Heuer - Calibre 5 - Swiss Made". Although the Côtes de Genève look depends on the model and isn't always present.
Mikropendulum – forward-looking technologyThe Mikropendulum features the world's first escapement that uses magnets instead of a traditional balance spring. This revolutionary, COSC-certified regulator challenges 3 centuries of conventional watchmaking tradition. With the classic balance spring system invented by Christian Huygens in 1675, the effect of gravity is a predominant problem due to mass. With the pendulum, this problem no longer exists since there is no longer any loss of amplitude. The result is a significant improvement in precision and performance. Or so the theory goes. But the original TAG Heuer pendulum concept posed challenges that many thoughts were almost impossible. Notably, thermal sensitivity, as magnetic fields are affected by temperature differences, which would negatively impact performance. However, TAG Heuer has tackled this problem by experimenting with new magnetic atoms, metal alloys, and carefully dimensioned and appropriately machined geometric shapes.
The result of this research is a reversal of conventional wisdom: an invisible, magnet-driven balance spring that moves the balance wheel with a low amplitude and a high frequency, ensuring perfect accuracy and stability. Overall, the performance of the magnetic oscillator is very close to that of conventional, premium-quality hairsprings. Moreover, it is much easier to manufacture and unaffected by shocks, gravity and geometric deformations. This is a movement to fall in love with.
For the time being, however, this technology is only commercially available at frequencies above 10 Hz. Fortunately for TAG Heuer, this is an undisputed domain.
The evolution of the 1887: the Heuer 01The Heuer 01 automatic movement is a further development on the Heuer 1887 chronograph calibre, as well as a manufacture calibre and a true workhorse. Equipped with a total of 39 rubies, this skeletonized, Swiss-made movement offers a power reserve of up to 40 hours with an activated chronograph. The calibre runs at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz) and displays an hours, minutes, and stop seconds hand in the centre of the dial. An additional small seconds hand can be found at 9 o'clock, the chronograph minute counter at 12 o'clock, and the chronograph hour counter at 6 o'clock. A date with a quickset mechanism is located at 3 o'clock. The black coated rotor is additionally engraved with the "CAL. HEUER 01 SWISS MADE" in red, contrasting lettering.
Calibre 12 – a price-performance wonderThe Calibre 12 is essentially an Ébauche movement with a Sellita SW300-1 basis, which has been fitted with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module that is popular with many fine watchmakers. This calibre drives its watches with a rate of 28,800 BPH and contains a total of 59 jewels. When watchmakers consider a chronograph module because an integrated module is not a viable option, they usually have a choice between a Dubois-Depraz module and an ETA 2894-2, as these keep the watch marketable and ensure that the finished timepiece will remain within a certain price range. The Dubois-Depraz module's advantage is that it is significantly easier to maintain compared to the ETA 2894-2. Therefore, it's an understandable choice. Finally, the finished Calibre 12 is characterized by a "Cotes de Genève" design, which runs vertically over the weighted rotor of its self-winding mechanism. The other plates in the movement are decorated with a perlage motif. Furthermore, two rounded triangles are incorporated into the oscillating weight as skeletonization. "TAG Heuer - Calibre 12 - SWISS MADE" is engraved in black in the centre of the rotor.
An overview of the top calibres by TAG Heuer
|Calibre 11||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 40 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o'clock, minute counter at 9 o'clock, date window, central stop seconds hand||59 rubies||TAG Heuer Monaco (Ref. CAW211P.FC6356)|
|Calibre 1887||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 50 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o'clock, minute counter at 12 o'clock and hour counter at 6 o'clock, date window at 6 o'clock||39 rubies||TAG Heuer Carrera (Ref. CAR2014.BA0799)|
|Calibre Monaco V4||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 52 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, small seconds at 4 o'clock||48 rubies||TAG Heuer Monaco V4 (Ref. WAW2170.FC6261)|
|Calibre S||Electro-mechanical 5 bidirectional micromotors||-||Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph seconds, chronograph 1/100ths of a second, alternatively with a perpetual retrograde calendar||28 rubies||TAG Heuer Link (Ref. CJF7110.BA0587)|
|Calibre Heuer 02T Nanograph||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 65 h power reserve||30-minute counter at 3 o'clock, tourbillon at 6 o'clock, and 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock||33 rubies||TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 Tourbillon Nanograph (Ref. CAR5A8K.FT6172)|
|Calibre 17||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 42 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, small seconds at 3 o'clock, date window at 6 o'clock, two or three totalizers for minutes (and hours), central stop seconds hand||37 rubies||TAG Heuer Grand Carrera (Ref. CAV514C.FC8171)|
|Calibre 5||Automatik||28.800 BPH, 38 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, central stop seconds hand, date window (also with weekday depending on the model) at 3 o'clock||25 to 26 rubies||TAG Heuer Carrera (Ref. WAR211A.BA0782)|
|Mikropendulum||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 42 h power reserve||Chronograph featuring 1/100ths of a second||58 rubies||TAG Heuer Carrera Mikropendulum (Ref. CAR2B83.FC6339)|
|Heuer 01||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 40 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, central stop seconds hand, date window at 3 o'clock, small seconds at 9 o'clock, totalizer for minutes at 12 o'clock and for hours at 6 o'clock||39 rubies||TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 (Ref. CAR201W.BA0714)|
|Calibre 12||Automatic||28.800 BPH, 40 h power reserve||Hours, minutes, central stop seconds hand, small seconds at 3 o'clock, date window at 6 o'clock, totalizer for minutes at 9 o'clock||59 rubies||TAG Heuer Monaco (Ref. CAW2111.FC6183)|